After watching Natasha's animatic through several times (which can be found here), the first thing I realised could definitely go was the shed scene. While I understand Natasha's reasoning for having the mum give her son a job to do (to make her feel guilty for not allowing him to play with the ball), a mother leaving her young son to saw up planks of wood with a dangerous tool and build a shed all on his own doesn't quite ring true to me. There's just too many possibilities for accidents and him seriously hurting himself; I believe it's the sort of thing that would require constant adult supervision. I also felt that the mother didn't really need to give him any hard labour in order to make her feel guilty. I know from experiencing my mum's rage whenever me or my brothers used to mess up her hard work as children that mothers can get frustrated very easily, especially when trying to work against a deadline with constant distractions and setbacks. The easiest way to eliminate those obstacles is to temporarily get rid of the child causing them, usually by sending them to their rooms, which is a punishment children identify with imprisonment and banishment from the wonderful place where they wish to play. This alone is usually enough to make the mother feel guilty later (usually once she's finally finished her work or achieved her goal), as she realises she put herself before the desires of her children when all they really wanted to do was play. No matter how angry they get in the heat of the moment, mothers love their children and have a soft spot for them, especially if the child in question is only young. I think the mother in Natasha's animation would feel guilty enough to return the ball to her son simply by banishing him from the garden while she finishes her work. Just seeing her son sitting miserably on the curb outside the garden gate would probably be enough to make her feel she'd been too hard on him, especially considering his young age. After all, all little boys want to play. Perhaps he can even be poking/rolling stone over with a stick to show how much he really wants to be playing with the ball.
I also got the impression that she probably doesn't get to spend as much time with him as she'd like, due to her being a single mother and working full time. So the fact that he wanted to play with her and she pushed him away to do the garden will probably also make her feel sufficient guilt. I don't know if that was the boy's original intention, but the way he holds the ball up to the mother pleadingly at the start instead of just running outside with the ball suggests he wants to play with her rather than on his own.
In order to shorten the introduction, I decided to move the photos showing the boy growing up with his mum from the hallway to being stuck up on the fridge. Not only will this save Natasha the time of modelling the hallways and all the photo frames, but it also allows the camera to move straight from the photos to the gardening competition poster and the calendar (which will also be stuck up on the fridge), effectively cutting out the need to have the mother standing in front of the calendar marking off the days. This way the calendar (and necessary date) can be clearly seen as the camera pans down over it towards the title spelt out in letters on the fridge below it. I also thought it might be nice for the photos and everything to be pinned up with novelty fridge magnets portraying the interests of the two characters (flowers/gardening magnets for the mum, football magnets for the boy), thus introducing the viewer to their motivations at the very beginning before throwing them into the main story. I think subtle hints like that will add depth help people make sense of the interactions between the characters, since there will be no dialogue. As a result of cutting the mother from the calendar scene, I moved her first appearance to outside, where the boy pops up in front of her asking to play.
I ended up cutting out most of the domino effect (when the boy's ball causes chaos after he kicks it) simply because I didn't think it was really necessary to be so elaborate. I think the reason for the mother's anger could just as easily be one large thing going wrong rather than lots of little things setting each other off, so I opted for the lawnmower mowing down all her newly planted flowers. I also cut out the scene where the boy plays football with his mother after she gives him the ball back because, again, it didn't really seem necessary. It was needed in the original storyboard because the boy needed a reason to go outside the garden and see the other pretty gardens in the street to get his idea, but in my version he was already outside the garden anyway when his mother sent him out. So I thought it would work just as well if he had his idea after getting the ball back, while he was still in the street. I think this makes things flow faster and smoother while still getting the point across.
Lastly, I cut the scenes of the two creating the football garden together as I felt it was rather long-winded and would require a lot of time and effort to animate, which I don't think Natasha really has at this stage... I think the result could be shown just as effectively by cutting to the flower delivery truck blocking the view of the garden, and then having it drive away to reveal the garden fully finished in all its football glory. It can then cut to a shot of the boy finishing off a section of the garden to show he's helped, and have the mother come hug him so they can fade into the winning photograph.